Unseen Academicals: (Discworld Novel 37) Hardcover – 8 Oct 2009
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"This is the 37th in a body of work so vast that it has spawned its own concordance, yet the quality remains as high as ever and the laughs as plentiful...Like all the Discworld novels, Unseen Academicals rewards a second reading. As ever it is peppered with allusions, from Keats to the Lewinsky affair, but, like Wodehouse, Pratchett wears his learning lightly and the pleasure of rereading is in teasing them out." (Peter Inham Telegraph)
"Mention comic fantasy and Terry Pratchett is the first name that comes to mind...behind the fantasy Terry Pratchett looks at very real contemporary issues and scores many goals. This isn't just football, it's Discworld football. Or, to borrow another phrase, it's about life, the Universe, and everything." (The Times)
"The subject matter is football, with a dash of Romeo and Juliet thown in...exactly what's needed to cheer us all up in the autumnal gloom. Terry has lost none of his ability to raise a laugh...I'll wager there are a few more books in him yet." (Daily Express)
"We doubt whether Pratchett gives a fig about 22 men kicking a bag of wind,but he's ever fascinated by people,our vagaries, our vanities and our triumphs. And, when all's said and done, football is all about us, wherever we sit in society. In case you hadn't already guessed, the man of the match award goes, not for the first time, to Sir Terry Pratchett." (SFX)
"Satirical, historical, fantastical and irresistible." (Daily Mail)
Football comes to the Discworld! And the thing about football - the important thing about football - is that it is not just about football.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Some parts of the book are an unusual departure in terms of the theme of the book - not so much inconsistent but as part of a continual evolution of the character of Ankh-Morpork and its various inhabitants. More so than any other Discworld book, I got the feeling from this novel that things are genuinely changing in the world. People are moving on and growing up, sometimes with surprising results. It genuinely feels like the book moves the continuing story of the Discworld on a few years.
I don't want to say too much about the plot itself, but it manages to avoid that which I had feared - the 'gimmick of the episode' style thing so common to the later stages of popular franchises. It's never the case that the football element is crowbarred in - it emerges rather nicely from the usual serendipitious circumstances that we come to expect. That's especially welcome, because not being a fan of football myself, the whole theme of the book is somewhat alien to me. However, really it's not about football - it's about the people, the mythology, and the spirit of the game. In the same way that the West Wing is not a show about politics, and House is not a show about medicine, this isn't a book about football. Football is just the vehicle used to deliver some important lessons about the nature of community and belonging.
It's a wonderful book, and a very worthy addition to the Discworld canon. Thanks, Terry!
"Unseen Academicals" on the other hand, is utterly joyful to read. On the outside it seems like a book about football, but as the quote on the back quite aptly points out, "The important thing about football is that it isn't about football." What we have here is a novel about the uncontrollable culture of football and the broad range of football zealots, from the lovers of the game and the men with the skills to the angry old women shouting "kick 'im in da nutz!" and violent hooligans that dominate the Shove.
But wrapped even more deeply is a realisation that Pratchett was actually warning us with that back cover quote. It really isn't about football. The sub-plot, surrounding Mister Nutt, an intelligent and incredibly polite goblin, and his Unseen University colleagues, Glenda the Night Kitchen cook, her assistant Juliet and candle dribbler, Trev Likely. This sub-plot, however, takes up at least 60% of the book, so to call it so would be an injustice. And further so, because it is a wonderful tale of romance, adversity and acceptance. Pratchett has created something quite special with the character of Mister Nutt, who will be a favourite of fans for years to come.Read more ›
The Unseen University crew are some of Pratchett's most memorable creations, but I thought that the majority were underused here, apart from Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully about whom we learn a little more. Rincewind and his brilliant walking chest were largely absent from the action, but the eternally put-upon Ponder Stibbons and bolshy (ex) Dean are given plenty to do.
The story is a straightforward TP satire on society and the way it treats those seen to be different, and is a thoroughly enjoyable read; it just doesn't take the Discworld series anywhere new.
I have been with the Discworld novels since the very beginning, way before the author turned into a phenomenon and then an official National Treasure. Recently his much discussed illness has perhaps made us appreciate his genius even more. Now, a slight confession, although I was there from the start, I kind of lost my way about Hogfather - maybe it was my age or my tastes changed, but suddenly the books weren't doing it for me and since Hogfather I have only been dipping in and out of the occasional one.
But I love football and was keen to see how Terry Pratchett would morph the beautiful game into a Discworld version! And would the classic humour and clever writing be there as I remembered it from the days of avid reading. In short, yes.
In essence, the wizards of the Unseen University have to win a football match. And they are not allowed to use magic. So they resort to bringing in some players all of whom, in typical Pratchett fashion, are not quite what they seem. But although there are many amusing digs at the football culture, football and the challenge match are just the framework in which the author places interesting characters and very funny interplay. And there comes a point where you realise that actually this book might be about something that is nothing to do with football!
It's astonishing that an author who is suffering with a serious illness can still produce such high quality stuff. The word genius was never more appropriate.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Nice cameo roles for some old favourite characters and thumping good read. Good sub plots: orcs and football. It also gives a lot more detail about the unseen university.Published 1 month ago by D. N. Frew
This book is an interesting one, because it’s one of Pratchett’s later releases and probably the last ‘new’ Discworld book that I read before he died. Read morePublished 3 months ago by SocialBookshelves.com
Very funny book with some lovely moments. Not the best Discworld novel hence only the four stars.Published 3 months ago by Nigel Tremlett